When Bihari Ushered In Jammu And Kashmir

Year 2000 saw a whole new class of immigrants in Jammu and Kashmir. The people from the eastern & central states of Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Chhattisgarh landed in search of jobs, mainly labour-oriented. Year 2000 saw the beginning while the subsequent years witnessed a sharp rise in the number of immigrants. The word “immigrants” is being used here for the fact that the settlers who came here to work, also expect permanent settlement. Well, for the fact aforesaid, the expectations stand nullified as they will never get permanent citizenship in J&K. The reason being article 370. Without any official confirmation available, the number of immigrants in the state is estimated to be somewhere from .2 million to .6 million. The text would some time refer immigrants as “Bihari”.

The “title” stems from fact that the locals think that immigrants come from Bihar only. Every dark skinned man speaking any language other than Punjabi, or Dogri is a “Bihari”. The doubt has already been cleared in the preceding paragraph.

Why Bihari migrate?

The number of immigrants is soaring with the passing days. The wages offered here in J&K are far better than those in their native states. After talking to the immigrant, AngryMania’s associates discovered that each of the family had atleast an acre of land back at their ancestral villages. But, the land produced only pulses due to its arid nature. Moreover minimum wages in the unorganized sectors such as masonry and small-scale construction activities is way less than that in J&K. Remember wages here are nearly 300% more than that in Bihar and Odisha.

Types of Biharis

Kharif crop planting and cultivation has attracted a lot of immigrants. They come here for a couple of months, work, earn and go back to their states. While the other group working in the construction sector resides in rented houses or what the commons call as “chuggis”. So, primarily there are two segments, the “seasonal” and the “permanent”. The labour force in the state has been mostly replaced by these immigrant Biharis. With a penetrate percentage of of 90% or even more. While most of the agricultural activity is still carried by the native population, the construction and building activity has absorbed the immigrants in large number.

Give & Take Relation

As it is the case in every sector, the skilled is paid more than the un-skilled, the same trend is followed here. We pay them money for their services and a part of it is returned back in form of rents. This “Give &Take” relation is now transformed into a business with people in some cases throwing acres of land on lease. The problem here is that when we create an economic resource we don’t work on its structure. The organ is functioning, but from time-to-time it needs maintenance. The resource needs to be looked after and modified with changing time. The problem is that we first let things get worse and then spend huge amounts on repairing. The resources have to be taken care in order to reap benefits from. Bihari population is one such resource.

Culture

When immigrants come in, they bring a different culture with them. The intermixing is important to live in harmony. Fortunately in J&K, every religion is already present in appropriate proportion. Be it Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, or Christians, the immigrants get mixed up in the variety. The different customs, beliefs and festivals attract attention and participation from the locals. Participation is rare but attention is certain. Common festivals bond two communities together while differences incites curiosity and sometimes criticism.

Problems With Bihari Immigrants

A large immigrant work-force has substituted the locals. The numbers are soaring with passing days. Eventhough they do not constitute J&K officially but locals have already opened their doors for them. Therefore, the resources fed to locals would be transferred to the immigrants ultimately.

Public Services

The problem lies here. In this state of Jammu & Kashmir, where there is no concrete policy for monitoring Public Services status, tracing a leak is a difficult job. The land-lords in order to keep the costs low don’t charge the immigrants for electricity, water, etc. and thus the department providing services suffers. In short, the services are fed at low rates and that too illegally.

Hence, the Government needs to frame a policy that deals with the tenants and affairs related to them.

Education

The children of immigrants have no or little access to education. Low wages and ignorance forces the immigrants not to send their children to private schools and in absence of any Government policy made for them they either end up in masonry or in some factory as a daily wager. The provisions for free Universal education in J&K are not present. Although, some of the children have sought admissions as the locals have migrated to private institutions, but the number is still less though.

The young minds whether from J&K or Bihar, need to be educated to make India great.

Miscellaneous

Immigrants don’t have access to the state Government’s schemes but central schemes are within their reach. Access to health services, good lifestyle, sanitation, etc are universal needs and should not be confined to the state subjects only. The state Government should frame a policy for the immigrants in state. For their education & health atleast. They are a part of the work-force. We are dependent on them and they on us. The “racist titles” need to be abolished. We should treat them as a part of our society, to conclude the discussion.

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